By C.L. Phillips
When you look at the coming changes in the publishing industry, there's one word you should know. Disintermediation. It's a fifty cent word that means billions of dollars of cost are going to be driven out of the supplier-distributor-consumer supply chain.
Do you remember when mainframe computers ruled banking? Or when you used a travel agent to make airline reservations? If you were born after 1980, you probably don't. A more recent example, remember when you went used iTunes to get new music instead of going to a record store to buy a CD.
Mainframe computers have been replaced by minicomputers, by personal computers, and by lightweight machines that access applications on the internet (e.g. iPad). General travel agents were replaced by self-service airline reservations. The travel agents that survive today were forced to specialize and market to a niche. Example : Cruise Ship Travel Agents, or China travel agents. In the music business, Tower Records closed store after store. If you want to buy a CD now, you have to find a quirky little music shop or hit the music section of the Barnes and Noble. Even Best Buy and Walmart have significantly reduced their inventory.
Disintermediation happens when technology provides a new method for connecting suppliers with consumers. Computing power decentralized. Travel information became available to individual travelers. Knowledge decentralized. iTunes put entire music catalogs at your fingertips.
Disintermediation and decentralization of power, control, and knowledge travel together.
I actually loved my travel agent. She took care of me. She saved me from a snowstorm in Newark, NJ and put me on the the last plane headed west (to Memphis) so I could make it to my father's sixtieth birthday party on time. But even with stellar service, I now make my own travel reservations. Disintermediation puts more control in the hands of the consumer, and the consumer responds.
How will the consumer respond when the publishing industry completes its transition? Can you imagine a world where the reader has the resources to easily find the books they want?
As authors, we need to know what the readers will do. How will you find the books you want in this new worlds? How do you find the books you want today? Inquiring minds want to know. Share your tips in the comment section. Together we may have the information we need to surf this wave, starting now.
C.L Phillips writes mystery novels while nestled under a hundred-year live oak tree in downtown Austin. Except in August. C.L writes about the the gap between what people want and what they actually do. Broccoli or chocolate chip cookies, anyone? Check out her web site: http://www.clphillips.com/ or find her onTwitter: @clphillips787